Texans proud to ‘Purple Up’ for military kids
Youth, adults statewide showed support on April 13 during Month of the Military Child
TEMPLE – While Friday the 13th is typically associated with bad luck, this year it was a particularly good day for thanking children throughout the state who are part of military families, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service military program administrator.
“We wanted to do something special to acknowledge and thank those children of military personnel who sacrifice along with their parents who get deployed or otherwise stationed away from them,” said Brigid Mejia, state coordinator for Texas Operation: Military Kids, a program of the AgriLife Extension.
“Since April is the Month of the Military Child, we felt it was appropriate to give them special attention through our statewide Purple Up! for Military Kids initiative,” she said.
Mejia said the Purple Up! initiative began as a partnership of the U.S. Army, along with AgriLife Extension and the agency’s statewide 4-H and youth development program.
“Thousands of people throughout Texas wore purple on Friday the 13th or otherwise showed their appreciation and support for military kids,” she said. “We suggested people wear purple on that day since purple is the color you get when you combine the colors of the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Army and Marine Corps. It’s symbolic of all the military branches coming together.”
Mejia said those who wore purple included school students, teachers and administrators, county officials and staff, employees of businesses, members of other military support organizations, and members and adult leaders of 4-H clubs statewide.
“We have about 700 kids in the school and 85 to 90 percent of them wore purple and participated in Purple Up! activities on the 13th,” said Terri Leija, principal of Lackland Elementary, located on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. “Many of the kids in this school have parents who are deployed two or three times a year, so it was great to have an opportunity to honor the children for the sacrifices they make too.”
Leija said the kids were excited about the Purple Up! program presentation by area Texas Operation: Military Kids representative Christine Sandoval, as well as about their ID holder and 4-H dog tag giveaways and the local television coverage of the event.
Other schools across the state that participated in Purple Up! included Caldwell Elementary in the Pflugerville school district and Faubion Elementary in the Leander school district. In addition to wearing purple, students at Caldwell wrote letters of support to military families and signed a poster supporting Purple Up! and military kids. Teachers and students at the school began their day with a moment of silence to reflect on the sacrifices made by military children.
In Brooks and Harris counties, county officials and staff members wore purple. In Hidalgo County in South Texas, the commissioners’ court approved a proclamation declaring April 13 “Purple Up! For Military Kids” Day throughout the county.
In Brooks County, employees at a Walmart wore purple, as did employees at Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County.
“It was great to have a way to honor the kids for their service,” said Tracey Cumming, systems manager at Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County.
Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston hosted a special Purple Up! event April 13 in support of military families.
“The seniors and Wheatley’s JROTC battalion participated in the event in which Ms. Kendra Edwards of Military Family Support and Captain Edward Chapman of the 75th Army Active Guard spoke to the students about the importance of supporting military families,” said Marcus Glenn, 4-H agent for the Cooperative Extension Program at Prairie View A&M University who helped coordinate the event. “They spoke to the students from the standpoint of people who see the toll that war has taken on kids and experience it firsthand.”
After the program, some members of the battalion participated in a service-learning project in which they planted a butterfly garden in the school’s outdoor classroom.
“To continue to show support for veterans, military families and kids in the upcoming year, Wheatley, along with the Harris County 4-H program, will also be planting a ‘Welcome Home Garden’ at the school,” Glenn said.
Purple Up! involvement also came from members of the Comfort Crew for Military Kids organization which, according to administrators, supports military children and their families with resources that are both educational and comforting. It also came from fans of the Round Rock Express minor league baseball team, which plays in Round Rock, north of Austin.
“Comfort Crew personnel in Texas wore purple, and at the opening game for the Round Rock Express on the 13th, many of the fans wore purple,” Mejia said. “Just before the start of the ball game, military kids were honored for their sacrifices and resiliency.”
Additional support was provided by the Kids Club in Montgomery County, as well as by 4-H members in Johnson County during their district fashion show contest.
“We handed out purple ribbons to 150 to 200 4-H members and their parents who participated in the show,” said Laura Huebinger, AgriLife Extension program specialist for 4-H and youth development for several Central Texas counties. “We also promoted the program among our county agents and 4-H adult program leaders.”
Mejia said the statewide response to Purple Up! for Military Kids was a testament to how important military families are to Texas residents, and how much they appreciate their service and sacrifice.
“We’re grateful to everyone who participated in these activities and showed their support for military kids,” she said. “We often forget that these kids also make sacrifices by having to manage without a parent – sometimes even both parents. So we’re glad to have had the opportunity to help initiate and participate in this statewide effort to recognize and thank them.”
For more information on Texas Operation: Military Kids and Purple Up! for Military Kids, contact, Mejia at 254-774-6022 or email@example.com.